The ukulele concert cutaway is a design feature that even novice players should recognize from electric guitars. It is available in several of the different voices for ukuleles and is incorporated into different overall body designs.
The principal advantage of the cutaway is that it allows more convenient access to the higher frets. Looking at the anatomy of a standard ukulele design, one can clearly see the advantages of this, particularly if they have a certain playing style.
Generally, the ukulele body will join the neck near the 12th fret. This is not at all inconvenient when playing on the lower frets, but once the player wants to get up onto the higher frets, the body can provide something of an obstruction that makes it difficult to maintain proper hand positioning, if it’s possible to do so at all. The cutaway consists of a small section of the body being cut away, along the bottom of the fret board, which makes it much easier for the player to reach those highest notes.
The result is that the player can maintain their proper hand position and get the benefit of better tone, resonance and better ergonomics for their hand with this simple design alteration. For some pieces, this is necessary. Pieces that concentrate very much on the fret board above the 12th fret are difficult or downright impossible to play without a cutaway.
There is also significant benefit for players who are playing such pieces for an extended period. While it may be possible to reach those frets for a few measures here and there, doing so consistently becomes exhausting for the player, as they have to arch their wrist and fingers into unnatural positions to accommodate the piece. With the cutaway, their hand can remain relaxed and in the proper position for the entire time.
For some players, a cutaway might actually be a little bit too much for them to accommodate their normal playing style. In such cases, the player may want to go with a standard ukulele design rather than one with a ukulele concert cutaway on it or, if possible, look for a brand that still has a rather meaty area around the junction of the neck and the body. This can sometimes offer a bit of the best of both worlds, providing the additional leverage that the thicker body offers with the accommodation for the fingers offered by the concert cutaway.
There are plenty of customization options for manufacturers available that incorporate ukulele concert cutaways. An important consideration for any player weighing the pros and cons of this particular design is the case. Some of these ukuleles will fit just fine into a standard case, but some of them will not. Particularly if the rest of the design is nontraditional, specific variation on cases and stands may be necessary to accommodate the unique look and design of the instrument.Return to Types of Ukuleles from Ukulele Concert Cutaway
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